On a Scale of 1 to 'Marvin Gaye and Jesse Jackson Playing Pickup Basketball,' How Black is My In-Home Workspace?

Illustration for article titled On a Scale of 1 to 'Marvin Gaye and Jesse Jackson Playing Pickup Basketball,' How Black is My In-Home Workspace?
Photo: Panama Jackson

For Christmas, I told my wife that I wanted a workspace in our home. I have the good fortune to work from home on a regular occasion but that has largely meant that my laptop goes wherever I go as I’ve not had a stationary, consistent, comfortable workspace in the house. I told her what I wanted and her response was, “say less.”


Well, she delivered. I now have an enclave in our “playroom” (basically the open space on the top floor of my house where my kids turn into a danger zone between the hours of 8am and 730pm everyday) that I call my own. It is my space to come sit down and work daily, record podcasts, work on book proposal things and look up random shit like, “why is why?”

I loved my workspace as soon as I saw it. I immediately thought about how I’d personalize and turn it into a space that screamed, “Panama works here!” And I got to work. By the time I was finished—though I’m not finished yet, really—I looked up and was like, “P, this is a pretty Black space.” And it wasn’t exactly intentional, it’s just that for whatever reason, the things I decided to decorate with and spotlight tended to be OD Black.

(OD Black will be my rap name if I decide to hit a mid-40s rap career. Amazingly, a Google search of the term “OD Black” turns up zero results for that specific combo; a star is born.)

Well, while on a weekly zoom call for The Root, I took a look at the background and was like, “wow, this is Black. I wonder how Black this is, like on the Internet Black Scale?” I have no idea what exactly the Internet Black Scale is, but I imagine that everybody who just read that knows exactly what I mean. And well, because I believe in love after love (what exactly does that mean?) and that sharing is caring, I decided to bring such a question to the people. I will also list the various items that are slightly harder to make out but whose presence must be accounted for.

So on a scale of 1 to this, how Black is this workspace?

(See picture above, below is an itemized list of...items):

1. A small print of a Michael Jordan from Chuck Styles “Air Dancer” series (I actually bought this bundle; I’m a fan)


2. A copy of Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime, the book written by Damon Young and myself back in 2011 that launched the first in-person meeting between the two of us.

3. A copy of the Malcolm X DVD

4. Richard “Dimples” Fields Mmmm... album, which features songs like “Your Wife is Cheating On Us” and the 10 rules for living “Straight from the Dimples’ Mouth”


5. A canvas print of Chuck Styles “Tupac BHM” piece (I also own his piece showing MLK and Malcolm X set against the black and white American flag a la Outkast’s Stankonia album cover)

6. A street sign I made via Etsy early in the pandemic when I was up past midnight trying to buy shit I didn’t need. Mission accomplished.


7. A copy of Damon Young’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker (got to support the home team).

8. A CD copy of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (this may lose me points; damn you, Kanye).


9. A print I also picked up on Etsy that features the following people riding horses to wherever: Tupac, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Barack and Michelle Obama, Huey Newton, Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and last, but not least, Bob Marley.

10. Coming to America DVD

11. The Tuskeegee Heirs comic book seris

12. Ray J’s Bunny Rayz unbreakable glasses

13. A black Crown Royal bag

14. The complete Atlantic Records recordings of John Coltrane

15. An A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders hat (another late night Etsy pickup—I have since stopped spending all my time and money on Etsy).


16. My 2001 graduation announcement from Morehouse College

17. A plethora of DVDs of Black movies like Trippin’, Roll Bounce, The Boondocks series and Standing in the Shadows of Motown (among others), that are also sprinkled with movies I love like Sleepers, Sweet Home Alabama, Can’t Hardly Wait and Tombstone (among others).


18. Black Futures book edited by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham

19. Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

20. The Black Uno game

21. A pillow featuring the logo from a Black-owned clothing and lifestyle brand in DC called The Museum


22. Kiese Laymon’s How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

23. David Hammons’ African-American Flag

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



Unless you are one of those freaky people, there is no way your workspace is normally that clean and organized.

Are you one of those freaks or did you tidy up for pictures?